Some 40,000 Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ)’s workers are preparing to go on strike on Wednesday morning. The workers plan to stay out of work should the giant wireless company fail to reach an agreement on a new labor agreement with their unions.
Unions-Verizon Stand Off
Two unions representing the workers say they have made ‘little’ progress on negotiations, eight months after the expiration of recent contracts. The unions represent customer service workers, repair people installers among other technicians. Failure to reach an agreement could set the stage for one of the biggest strikes seen in years.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) has already downplayed the potential impact of the imminent strike. Chief Administrative Officer, Marc Reed, says the company has already trained other personnel that will oversee the duties of the striking staff. Employees in the management ranks may also perform some of the duties should need to arise.
Reports indicate Verizon is planning to freeze pensions, something that has not gone well with the unionized workers. There are also reports the company plans to make it easier to lay off staff as it eyes more contract workers.
Verizon’s Stance on New Contracts
The company in its defense says health care costs for retiree’s and workers have ballooned and need to be revised. The unions are inclined to meet the company halfway when it comes to health care costs. Verizon’s failure to make concessions on protecting well-paying jobs and expanding workers ranks is however not going well with the union.
The company maintains that changing competitive and technological landscape calls for an update of the rules governing the workforce.
“We are moving to a digital world. Many things that were agreed to make sense back in the Ma Bell era that are no longer tenable, “said Mr. Reed.
With more Americans giving up landlines, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) believes it is high time it reduces the number of workers who operate and maintain them. A major point of concern is that the traditional landline business generated 29% of the company’s total revenue last year, which amounted to less than 7% of the total operating income.